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A Conversation Between William Hooker & Ras Moshe

By Published: March 11, 2003
WH: It's the same thing. I've seen this happen over and over again. And to an extent, I gotta say, there's something about my going and playing last weekend and getting a standing ovation at CB's, which I thought was pretty interesting, because I've found that I've returned to the basement. I started in the basement, it's almost like I returned to the basement, and I made just about as much money, or less, than when I first walked into the basement. But that's just myself. But that could be because, I've been told this many, many times, Ros, I've been told that when I chose to play music, and I chose to play the kind of brand of music that I play, with the fire, and explaining that I only play my own music, basically, and I don't play as sideman with people, with such-and-such, etc. And hadn't, for my own reasons, I don't know. But at that point, I ruled out, really, making a lot of money. I made a choice. I made a choice, and that's a choice that I have to live with. So because of that, a lot of things that people think, in terms of venues, and having to deal with factionalism, and having to deal with a lot of jealousy, and back-stabbing, and all sorts of craziness that goes on. As well as a lot of the poverty, and the sadness that happens from daily digestion of being around creative people that have as yet been unfulfilled, or are not used to their potential by this society. That breeds a certain sadness in a person, I think.

I've taken it to the point where, when I realized my own choices, then, I stopped asking these questions about what was going on out there, because I realized even though I do have a certain anger when I see people that don't deserve to get as much play as they do, and some people that deserve to get more play. And should be getting more play than they do, because their work is that strong, I being one of them. I'd be the first one to say, I'm one of them. I'm speaking from my own experience about what kinds of sides I've put out in the last five years. What kind of conscience I've had, what kinds of groups are put together in certain situations. What caliber of musicians I've played with, that even know that that caliber of musician is definitely greater than many of those who are out here. People don't recognize them, either. Maybe they're in the wrong camp. You understand what I'm getting at? It's not like I look at it only what has happened to me. But I look at it, there are people all in one camp, and many of these people get looked over because they're not the hangout type. They're not there at the middle of the night when the club closes up. They're not chasing every day, trying to figure out how to get interviews in magazines, because basically many of them have day jobs. They're just not trying to be on the scene to have arguments with people about aesthetics.

What they're trying to do is just play the music as honestly as they can, be providers for their families, and have a life. I have a life. I have a very good life. I feel really good. I just told you, I'm going to San Francisco for Christmas, I feel good about that. If I can get a gig, that's all well and good, that makes it even sweeter. But if I don't, I know I have a life, I have a family. I'm trying to go and just enjoy my family and the peace that is in family. That means a lot to me. It really does. Sometimes, as an artist, you have to sacrifice one or the other, being out on the road all the time. Right now, there's a lot of things I won't accept. There could be a lot of different places for people to play. But I'll tell you, I'm too old to be sleeping on people's floors and sleeping on people's couches. So, because of that, certain things have to be correct, or otherwise I can't go to Canada, I can't go to France. I can't go to Holland. Because I'm going to go there, I'm going to get a certain amount, hopefully, I'm going to get the plane fare paid for, and I'm not going to live in some hole, getting prepared to go the next gig. I'm just not taking it like that.

RM: What you just said, I understand that... Max Roach mentioned sometime that there's a bias against drummers, as far as having musical ideas, and leading a group, and playing the drummer's music, a lot of people are apprehensive about that. Is that a stereotype, or do you find that is an old problem, or a new problem? Because as much as people say they love jazz, sometimes the drums are still stereotyped. People like yourself, Andrew Serrill [sp?], and other people have their own ideas, just like any other instrument. Do you find that's still a problem?

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